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As a business owner or operator, or someone thinking about opening a business, you may have wondered what you have to do to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This web site explains how the ADA applies to businesses in a variety of ways. When you make efforts to comply with the ADA, you can welcome a whole new group of customers to purchase your products and services. And you may find that making your business more accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities is not as difficult as you thought.

Parents, grandparents, and children arrive at a hotel for vacation.

Did you know?

  • More than 50 million Americans with disabilities - 18% of our population - are potential customers for businesses.
  • This group has $175 billion in discretionary spending power, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That figure is more than twice the spending power of American teenagers and almost 18 times the spending power of the American "tweens" market.
  • Accessibility attracts not only people with disabilities but also their families and friends. Like others, these customers often stay at hotels, inns, and other places of lodging accompanied by family or friends. This expands the potential market exponentially!
  • This market is growing fast. By the year 2030, 71.5 million Baby Boomers will be over the age of 65 and demanding products, services, and environments that address their age-related physical changes.

This huge customer market can represent additional business and profit for your enterprise. This information will help you learn how to attract and successfully provide your services to this market.

A key point to remember as you explore this site: everyone benefits when businesses give customers with disabilities an equal opportunity to obtain their goods and services. By positively addressing access issues, businesses can make things easier not only for people with disabilities, but for other customers as well. Accessibility pays dividends and makes good business sense.

The goal of the ADA is to make it possible for people with disabilities to participate in the everyday commercial, economic, and social activities of American life. 

The law covers employment; state and local government programs, services, activities, and facilities; and businesses and nonprofit service providers. This site focuses on the requirements that apply to hotels and other places of lodging operated by private businesses. 

The ADA divides businesses into two categories:

1.  Businesses and non-profit organizations that provide goods and services to the public are called "public accommodations."  This includes hotels, motels, inns, and other places of lodging, as well as restaurants, pharmacies, grocers, banks, doctor’s offices, dry cleaners, night clubs, movie theaters, art galleries, health spas, amusement parks, child care centers, and a host of other businesses. 

There are seven million businesses in the United States that fall in this category, ranging from major chains to small mom-and-pop establishments.  The provisions of the ADA apply to all the businesses in this category.

2.  Businesses such as manufacturers or wholesalers are called "commercial facilities."  Because they do not serve the public directly, they are not public accommodations and they do not have to follow all the rules that apply to public accommodations. Commercial facilities are subject to requirements related to new construction and alteration of their facilities.

Public Accommodations

The ADA says people with disabilities are entitled to “the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations” that a public accommodation provides to its customers. In other words, every type of good or service a business provides to customers is covered by the ADA. All businesses that serve the public must provide equal opportunity for customers with disabilities.

The ADA asks public accommodations to take steps that are “readily achievable” or are “reasonable” or that do not constitute an “undue burden” to enable people with disabilities to be their customers. These terms are explained in more detail later.  Businesses that are willing to do simple, easy, and reasonable things to accommodate customers with disabilities will likely find it easy to comply with the ADA.

In a casual restaurant, an employee assists a man using crutches, by carrying his tray to a table.

Follow the links to the various sections to learn more about how you can address issues related to Policies and Procedures, Customer Communications, Facility Access, Transporting Customers, Cost Issues, and ADA Enforcement.

Additionally, your business may be covered by separate ADA requirements related to your employment practices. You can learn more about how to recruit, hire, and reasonably accommodate workers with disabilities in the Employers’ Guide.